When Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 and splashed £600 million to-date on the football club, few would have expected that a rival billionaire would outspend Chelsea’s owner. And even fewer would have predicted that the club would have been Manchester City.
But Manchester City has done it by being taken over by the investment company for the Abu Dhabi royal family, making waves with an audacious bid for Dimitar Berbatov, David Villa and Mario Gomez, and securing the capture of Brazilian superstar Robinho right under the noses of Chelsea.
Incredibly, the Abu Dhabi United Group manages oil reserves worth an estimated $1 trillion. In comparison, Abramovich has a net worth of $23.5 billion. Forbes magazine ranked him as the fifteenth richest person in the world.
When was the last time that Chelsea got embarrassed in the transfer market? In this window, they put so many of their chips in signing Robinho that by failing to do so, they’ve lost a lot of power in the business of English football. In just one day, Manchester City outdid Chelsea with the Robinho signing and would have signed Berbatov if he hadn’t been so gungho on signing for Alex Ferguson’s side.
By ploughing massive amounts of money into the Premier League, Manchester City has bought itself into the Big Four. Now Mark Hughes has to prove that his team are worthy of breaking into the Big Four.
In the meantime, where were the other Big Four clubs in the transfer window? Crickets were chirping at the Emirates Stadium on transfer deadline day. Liverpool got rid of Steve Finnan and Andrei Voronin, picking up a few youngsters from around the world as well as left winger Albert Riera from Espanyol. The longer that Arsenal refuses the advances of investors such as billionaires Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov, the further the Gunners will fall away from the pack of the top clubs in England.
It’s easy to get caught up in the transfer dealings today, but the biggest news is that the Premier League has changed forever beginning today. The new oil money of Abu Dhabi will be the first of several English clubs that will be bought by Middle East billionaires in the next few years. While Europe and the United States are suffering from the credit crunch, the Middle East has the capital to buy any players they wish thereby dramatically driving up the transfer fees and wages in the Premier League. At this rate, there’s no turning back.
My concern is how the Abu Dhabi United Group will change the face of the Premier League. Manchester City’s chief executive Garry Cook has already dicussed the idea of turning the Premier League into more of a NFL model with no relegation and promotion, to protect the financial interests of clubs such as City.
The buyout of Man City by the Abu Dhabi United Group is a massive win for Manchester City, the Premier League and the chances of the Premier League playing league games overseas. It’s awful news for the other 15 clubs in the Premiership who will find it impossible to compete both on and off the pitch with the big clubs.
Is this the end of the Premier League as we know it or just the beginning of a new chapter in the league’s history? Share your opinions below by clicking the comments link.